A poet, most traveled, to read at UHV

Carolina Astrain By Carolina Astrain

Oct. 11, 2015 at 10:42 p.m.
Updated Oct. 12, 2015 at midnight

"The Crossed-Out Swastika," by Cyrus Cassells

"The Crossed-Out Swastika," by Cyrus Cassells   Contributed photo for The Victoria Advocate

Cyrus Cassells' introduction to the poetry world was a serendipitous one.

"I published my first book when I was 22 years old," Cassells, 58, said. "I was quite young to be a published poet at that point."

He was working on film strips in Los Angeles when he was contacted about publishing his manuscript, Cassells said.

"After the book was published, I realized that I should take on this fellowship in Massachusetts," Cassells said.

Cassells, an Austin resident and English professor at Texas State University, will share some of his work at noon Thursday as part of the University of Houston-Victoria's American Book Review reading series. It will be in the the at the Alcorn Auditorium.

The author of five poetry books, winner of the William Carlos Williams Award and Pulitzer Prize nominee will read from "The Crossed-Out Swastika," which was inspired by his visits to the former Auschwitz concentration camp on the Day of the Dead.

"Using beautifully crafted, lyrical language and capturing all the relevant details, Mr. Cassells' poems are powerful and poignant," Jeffrey Di Leo, dean of the UHV School of Arts and Sciences and ABR editor and publisher, wrote in a news release. "He brings the perspective of an international traveler to his work and captures the struggles of real people. I'm sure this will be a fascinating reading."

Your poetry-making self is usually two or three years ahead of your actual self, Cassells said.

"Maybe by the time your book has been published, your life has caught up with things that are prevalent throughout your poetry," Cassells said. "Writing is a mirror for your spirit and your mind, and it is there to illuminate who you are and what the major things going on in your life are."

Cassells said he was living in Rome when his father was diagnosed with cancer.

"The first day I came to Rome, I was like, 'This is it for me,'" Cassells said. "Stepping off the train in Rome years later, my city, in some way ... Everyone has a special place. For me, that's Rome and Paris. I'm at my most productive and most awake in those places."



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